Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Fun: Soda Spree

We got an early start on celebrating Mama's birthday today, when we bought the SodaStream that Sis decided Mama should have.  With Goo here for the birthday party weekend, we thought making sodas would be great fun.  So, after a delicious brunch and some exploring of a small stream, and after a swimathon at the Y where we played water basketball, we picked up some ice cream and other supplies and headed home.

We made glass-sized tastings of several flavors, using SodaStream concentrate, including half and half Lemonade and Ice Tea, cream soda, orange soda, and grape soda (all of which were brightly colored and overly sweet).  Then we raided our fridge and combined several of our syrups--strawberry shrub, blackberry syrup, and Ribena black currant syrup (alas our elderflower had turned)--to carbonated water.  In all cases, we probably under-measured the syrup and made rather weak drinks.  But when we added vanilla ice cream to the grape soda ("a purple cow") and to the orange soda ("creamsicle"), we were quite pleased.  Mama even likes it straight, as seltzer (which is how Sis's teacher, from whom Sis got the idea, uses her machine), while I find it "salty."

Later, as we watched The Lego Movie (one of their birthday presents--it's visually amazing and quite humorous), I made a soda I came across when researching SodaStreams:  Vanilla Earl Grey, or what I should call, London Fog on Ice.  It reminds me of the hot London Fog I make in the winter.  It also reminded me of the wonderful sodas we had in Philly at Franklin Fountain and the ones in the cookbook Soda Fountain, from the Brooklyn Farmacy, that was recommended by NPR.

Clearly, homemade syrups are the way to go.  They would make for once fancy lemonade stand.

London Fog on Ice

Makes 1 1/2 cups of syrup
1 vanilla bean, halved and split
1 cup sugar
3-4 bags of Earl Grey tea
1 cup water
Soda water
Half-and-half or whole milk
To make the simple syrup, combine the vanilla bean and sugar in a small saucepan. Rub the vanilla bean into the sugar with the back of a spoon until the mixture is fragrant. Add the tea bags and water. Cook over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Turn off the heat, and use tongs to remove the tea bags right away to avoid bitterness. Allow syrup to cool before using.
To make the soda, fill an 8-ounce glass with ice. Fill three-quarters full with soda water. Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup syrup, depending on desired sweetness. Top with half-and-half and more soda, if desired.

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